Jewish Journal

Rahm Emanuel is swimming with fish

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 6, 2008 | 9:19 pm

Rahm Emanuel means business. Here’s what Ryan Lizza wrote for GQ when he met Emanuel for a meal before the Democrats, thanks to their new kingmaker, crushed the Republicans in 2006. (My edits):

“So how many seats do you think you’re going to win?”

Rahm flashes the impatient stare that is a cross between contempt and pity, followed by a sigh and a long, uncomfortable silence. I brace myself for the tirade—or the freeze-out. He’s been known to meet reporters for lunch or dinner and, if they fail to impress, spend the meal ignoring them. And within the first forty-five seconds or so of our first interview, he called me a f—-ing idiot—though I soon learned I wasn’t special in that regard. James Carville, Rahm’s pal since their days together on the 1992 Clinton campaign, later told me not to sweat it: “Everybody is a f—-ing idiot to Rahm.” Not even Bill Clinton is spared. When I ask the former president what is the bluntest thing Rahm has ever said to him, he tells me, “It’s unprintable.”

Over at Slate, Christopher Beam has quite the appreciation, a bit of which I posted after the jump:

Emanuel’s nickname is “Rahmbo,” and he is known for mowing down his opponents. Coming out of Chicago, both he and Obama know the value of muscle.

Of course, steamrolling doesn’t win you friends. But making friends isn’t Emanuel’s job. The chief of staff is tasked with making sure the trains run on time. Taskmaster is Emanuel’s middle name. (Imagine Ari Gold—the Entourage character based on Rahm’s brother—with an even fouler mouth and a weakness for polls.) He must also frame policy questions in a way that helps the president make decisions. Emanuel knows policy: During the Clinton years, he helped lead (successful) efforts to pass NAFTA and the administration’s (less successful) efforts on universal health care. Plus, it’s the most demanding job around, and Emanuel is known for sleepless nights and dervishlike energy.

Emanuel’s appointment is good for the press, too. (Like you care. But you should!) While Obama got glowing press coverage during the campaign, he also ticked off journalists by limiting access. Emanuel knows the value of press access and is skilled at working the refs. In an Obama administration, with which the media will quickly fall out of love, public relations will be key.

Most important, though, Emanuel knows Congress.

The rest is here.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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